Fishing at Buckeye Park

The fish will be biting Saturday morning as the annual Kids Fishing Derby takes place at Marietta’s Buckeye Park lake.

“We’ve had up to 100 kids show up for the fishing derby. It’s a fun morning with prizes for the biggest fish and tagged fish,” said Susie Joyce, recreation clerk for the city of Marietta, who assists with the Peoples Bank-sponsored event.

She said the city obtains a Step Outdoors grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that helps pay for fish stocking and food for the derby participants. The Marietta Civitan Club does the cooking.

“Peoples Bank is proud to have sponsored the fishing derby over the last 9 years. It’s a great way to promote healthy living through outdoor activities,” said Rick Stafford, spokesman for Peoples Bank.

He said the event begins with registration at 8 a.m. Saturday for those 16 years and under.

“All they have to bring is a fishing pole, bait and a comfortable chair to sit in,” Stafford added. “There will be prizes for the biggest fish and for tagged fish caught, as well as a casting contest.”

Top prizes include rods and reels, and there will be trophies for the largest fish, smallest fish, and for anything caught that’s not a fish-like turtles, old shoes, etc.

Peoples Bank associate Connie Grimes has helped coordinate the derby from the beginning.

“The derby started nine years ago when there had been a bad storm and a fishing derby that was scheduled to take place at Leith Run Recreation Area was moved to the Ohio River near the Lafayette Hotel,” she said. “A maintenance man there said it would be nice to have a fishing derby for kids in town.”

Grimes contacted the city recreation department who obtained the grant funding and started the derby at Buckeye Park.

“We’ve seen kids who have never been fishing come to the derby, and they get so excited when they catch a fish,” she said. “And we see many who return year after year.”

Ohio DNR appreciates the local efforts.

“One thing that’s important to us is getting younger folks interested in the outdoors, especially those who may have little experience with such outdoor activities,” said Tim Parrot with the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

He said Step Outdoors and other grants are focused on providing those outdoor experiences.

“It’s something we just can’t do ourselves, so we rely on clubs, cities, organizations and businesses to partner with us,” Parrot said. “And when local entities help out, it becomes more of a community effort.”

Joyce said the city also receives Ohio DNR grant funding for Marietta’s annual Youth Outdoor Day that will be held in August, which will include more fishing, archery and BB-gun events, as well as an ODNR wildlife exhibition.